The Freestone Drone

George Barber

2013 | 00:12:55 | United Kingdom | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Humor, Installation, The State, Surveillance, War

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — drones — have become an everyday feature of contemporary military activity, replacing humans in reconnaissance flights, small-scale combat missions and covert operations. The U.S. Army operates some ten thousands UAVs — a six-fold increase during Obama's term — deploying them over locations like Pakistan and Yemen.

George Barber's The Freestone Drone follows a mission from the point of view of the machine. The drone's camera surveys cityscapes, encounters individuals, reports, and in flight becomes aware of its own utility and destiny. Drone operators routinely study the washing to learn about their targets — it is foretold that the Freestone Drone is to die entangled in a clothes line.

The video combines found and made footage to produce an uneasy, seductive montage, anchored on the drone's private thoughts. Barber brings together war, love, life, death, and sends the drone over not only Waziristan, but also to New York and a London suburb. The drone then travels through time, projecting images of the past and possible futures.

While narrative unraveled on screen resists easy categorization, the artist draws the viewer to empathize with the antagonist. Engendered with human consciousness and independence, the drone is a poet who disobeys orders and does his own thing, a child within a machine.

In the legacy of Godard and Marker, The Freestone Drone proposes the meeting place of poetry and philosophy as a site to consider contemporary ethical and political concerns. Ultimately, Barber's work underlines the fact that technologies, and in particular modes of warfare, are symptomatic of the way we understand ourselves at our moment in history.  Much now done in our name is at odds with democratic tradition: hidden, inhuman and robotic.

Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.

 

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Premiere

Waterside Contemporary
London
2013

Exhibitions + Festivals

Athens Internatinoal Film/Video Festival, Athens, OH, 2014

Rotterdam International Film Festival, The Netherlands, 2014

Art Brussels, Brussels, Belgium - 2013

Art International Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey - 2013

Drone: The Automated Image - Mois de la Photo à Montréal, Cinémathèque québécoise, Montréal, Canada - 2013

Stream Single Title

Title Awards Image Major Exhibitions/Festivals Description
Sea in the Blood

Equal First Prize for Best Male Short, Inside Out, Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Sea in the Blood

OutFest (LA, CA.), 2001

Rotterdam International Film Festival (The Netherlands), 2001

 

Athens Int'l Film/Video Festival (OH), 2001

 

 

Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return. The narrative of love and loss is set against a background of colonialism in the Caribbean and the reverberations of migration and political change.

"Sea in the Blood was to be a meditation on race, sexuality and disease, but after working with the material for three years, it was the emotional story that came through. It's hard to work with such personal material, but in the end the work takes on a life of its own. 'Richard' is a character. Because of the subject matter — disease and death — I wanted to avoid sentimentality. I'd like the audience to think as well as feel."

— Richard Fung